Colombo, March 25 (IANS) England captain Andrew Strauss knows his team has come up the hard way in this World Cup and wants his players to play “smart and intelligent” cricket in their quarter-final match against Sri Lanka here Saturday.
Strauss Friday admitted that his team provided great entertainment in the championship, but refused to predict what will unfold at the R. Premadasa Stadium.
“We never expected to create such high drama. We were expecting to play good cricket and qualify for the quarterfinal. But, I think it’s great to play some close games. We take a lot of confidence from our victories over major sides like South Africa and West Indies and the tied game with India. That holds us in good stead for the game tomorrow.
“We don’t know what drama is going to unfold. In all likelihood, like we saw in the India-Australia match, it is going to be a tight game that can fluctuate on a couple of key performances. We have to make sure the guys can put up those performances.
“We have shown lot of resolve. We have stuck together in close encounters, you never know what this game will throw up. You have to be quick enough to adapt to what comes your way.
“Now is the time to play good, smart and intelligent cricket and ask questions to the opposition,” he said.
England have lost key players to injury and received yet another setback ahead of the quarterfinals when their left-arm spinner Michael Yardy went back home in depression.
Strauss admitted that injuries have upset their plans in the tournament.
“We have not been able to rely on our plan A. There has been a lot of chopping and changing. But it gives me a lot of belief that there are not just 2-3 players to deliver. If you want to win the world Cup, you need all 11 players to perform over the course of the tournament.”
The England captain said Yardy’s departure should not affect the team as Saturday’s game is enormous as the winner will go into the semi-finals.
Asked whether Yardy’s pullout will affect the team, Strauss said: “It is a massive game of cricket. If we win we are through to the semi-final. As players we are used to switching on and off when the situation demands.”
Strauss acknowledged that Sri Lanka have attacking options, both in batting and bowling and they also have the advantage of playing at home.
“It will be a big challenge for us. Sri Lanka are a good side and have a lot of attacking options with both bat and ball. Moreover, they are playing at home. The key is to get your nose in front, pressure will be big at this stage.
“We will go out with a positive attitude. At this stage, we have nothing to lose,” he said.
Strauss said in the past England have made the mistake of looking too much into the future, and here they would only like to focus on Saturday’s game.
“We have to think about tomorrow’s game. Whenever we have looked far ahead in future whether in Ashes, Tests or ODIs, we have come crashing down,” he said.
“The wicket has been relaid here and we have to see how it plays. We don’t want to go with too many predetermined plans.”
Asked how the batsmen will be dealing with Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, Strauss said they have their individual plans to tackle him
“His records speak for him, he is still bowling well. In these conditions he will be a challenge. The guys have played him before. We have our individual plans to counter that.”